A groan slipped from my throat when I looked at the clock. In ten minutes I was scheduled to go home, but after nine hours, I had little to show for my time. I’d lost an entire day, and could never get it back.
Do you ever feel like the entire day passed and you accomplished nothing? You can’t point to the exact cause , but for some reason, time, energy, and resources slipped away? I call these Invisible Drains. You don’t always recognize them as the black hole that sucks up your productivity, but they do.
For me, having a spot-check system helps me find and plug the drains that keep me from enjoying satisfaction from a job well done. Maybe they’ll help you also.
1) Process: Poorly planned work processes waste hours of energy and resources. Too often, processes are created in crisis, but after the initial emergency, the process continues in its original form. Simply ask yourself, “Why did we start doing this? Why do we do it this way? Have I talked with everyone impacted to see if this is efficient for them? Are there unnecessary steps involved? Is the same work done twice or more by different people? Does the outcome help our business?” Don’t be surprised if you discover some processes that don’t make sense at all. When you do, take courage and cut them out. Plug that drain.
2) People: Too often, we are our own worst enemy. We lose our most precious commodity, time, to unnecessary distractions. Did you know, when you are concentrated on a task, that for every interruption, it costs you approximately 20 minutes to reach the same level of focus? Think about your day, how many preventable interruptions cost you the priceless resource of time? Do we blurt out a question that could be covered in an email? Could we keep a list of things to discuss, and cover all of them once, instead of allowing a steady stream of time to slip down the drain from multiple breaks in concentration? What unessential pauses could you reduce? Invest a week, pay attention to how much time is wasted, and share the information with others. Teamwork an intentional fix to plug the invisible drain of distraction. Communicate with kindness, your intent to use time wisely.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at two other Invisible Drains, tools and technology. Plugging the holes reduces the loss of power you feel at the end of the day. There’s nothing like free-flowing peace when you finish a job.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Ecclesiastes 8:5 (NIV)
Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.